Smoking ban affects most N.C. bars, restaurants

Adam Wilmot, night manager and bartender at Thumpers Bar & Grille in Elizabeth City, lit up a cigarette as he talked about the smoking ban signed into law Tuesday by North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue.

Wilmot was a bartender and manager in Florida when a smoking ban took effect there in 2003. At first he opposed it, then he came to like it, he said.

“It hurts a lot at first,” he said. “People rebel. They say ‘ If I can’t smoke, I’m not going out.’ ”

Typically Thumpers draws about 80 to 100 people a night. About 20 of them will quit coming when the ban takes effect in January, he said.

At $4.50 a drink, that could have a big effect, especially in a slow economy, he said. After about a year, most customers will come back, he said.

Customer Janelle Carter sat at the bar not far from Wilmot. A smoke eater was mounted overhead but the smell of cigarettes was still present.

“I don’t think it’s right for the government to put sanctions on us,” she said. “It should be put to a vote.”

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